Dáil Éireann - Volume 4 - 16 December, 1921

THE PRESIDENT: I will make the whole thing clear in a few words. From the time I went into the negotiations I went out to make peace by negotiation if I could—an honourable peace. I used the word in the terms of reference to the delegation, to find out the way in which Irish national aspirations could be reconciled with association with the British Commonwealth. You all knew that that was the purpose for which the delegation went across. Now I set myself the constructive task of trying to work out such an association in detail. We gave to the plenipotentiaries a rough draft of a treaty that was the basis of their proposals, the basis of their standpoint, and the British put forward proposals which from the first day were Dominion Home Rule proposals. All their line of action was dictated from that point of view, whereas, from our point of view we were trying to get the idea of external association with the British Commonwealth. That was the main objective. To get an association of that kind you had to give up no Republic because there is not a single line in these proposals that I have given you which is not consistent with a Republic. There is not a line of that Treaty that France might not make if it wanted to with Britain or that Spain might not make with Britain and therefore I say that from my standpoint I keep an absolute Republic as an existing fact in mind, a Republic ready to make an association outside. I was proposing, therefore, that the Republic in association [sic]. There are objections to a Republic in association, I don't deny; there are objections such as the United States would have to entering into a League of Nations, but if we were to get anywhere by negotiations we are to have some objective like that. One end of the Cabinet wanted an absolutely isolated Republic. My task was to try to get by negotiations something which would satisfy Britain, something which would satisfy what I may call the left wing of the Cabinet and something which would satisfy the right wing. Everyone of these documents will be found to be consistent with that statement and any assumption that this question is not a question between a Republic and Dominion Home Rule, you can judge that for yourselves. The issue you will find is that document of mine is a Republican document, a document of association. That was my position. The left wing of the Cabinet was for an isolated Republic for the most part but I pulled them over a bit. I pulled them along. I say in fact what happened, while I was pulling along that wing, the other wing got away from me, not that they were anxious to be pulled but pulled by threats of force and the danger of war. My statement might be accepted as inferring that they were anxious to be pulled. We know that every one of these wanted a Republic as much as I wanted it and everyone here wanted it and therefore what happened was that over there a threat of immediate force upon our people was made. I believe that that document was signed under duress and, though I have a moral feeling that any agreement entered into ought to be faithfully carried out, I have no hesitation in saying that I would not regard it as binding on the Irish nation. If it was to be put into force for one instant to weaken [sic] against ratification because it is giving away a moral basis.